Student Disability Commission

Distance Learning Now

Distance Learning Now is an on-going accessibility campaign that the SDC has been advocating for since 2017. The original goal of the Distance Learning Now campaign was to increase lecture capture technology on campus through infrastructure funding. The pandemic and transition to-and-from online learning derailed this goal, and allowed us to reimagine what higher education looks like. The pandemic has provided a unique opportunity for a commitment to accessible technology and practices to benefit all students. Distance Learning Now calls upon the University to ensure that all students can access their education remotely and implement principles of Universal Design to its pedagogy.

Remote Accessibility

Remote access is an individuals ability to access classroom content, material, and information remotely.

  • Allows students to engage with lecture material in the event of their absence
  • Allows students who need to review material covered in class, as frequently as needed
  • Allows student to have autonomy and agency over their learning

Remote learning options provide flexibility for all students and faculty, however it most especially benefits:

  • Students with disabilities
  • Student-parents
  • Commuter students
  • ESL students
  • Working students
  • Students with weakens immune systems
  • Professors and students who become ill
  • Professors and students who have emergencies

Only 27% of students who have disclosed learning disabilities complete
college within six years. Only 14% of students who have mental disabilities/illness complete college within six years (Heching Report).

Students should not be excluded from attending higher education and completing their degree due to a lack of access to remote options and lack of infrastructure.

Student Testimonials

In many ways, remote learning has been easier on my body. The ability to wear comfortable clothing, to get up and stretch when needed, to get water, has all helped me continue to take care of my body throughout the day. It is also helpful for those days when my anxiety and depression is so severe that leaving the house feels impossible and unmanageable — it is nice that instead of having to miss class altogether, I can show up online as I am able in that moment.

Anonymous – Disabled, Chronically Ill UW Student (2022)

Auto captioning on zoom, zoom etiquette of people talking one at a time, higher audio quality, made lectures and group discussions more accessible for me.

Joyce Lin – Deaf/hard-of-hearing UW student (2022)

If I am having a flare-up day, or a sensory processing difficulty day, I can adapt bodily at home (lying down, changing positions, stimming physically and vocally) in ways that are considered disruptive in classrooms. Classrooms are full of people, people throw me into sensory overload frequently. As do fluorescent lights. Online work frequently allows for written forms of interaction, which allows me to interact (being socially inept or nonverbal in a classroom alienates me from my peers and interferes with my ability to participate, particularly in discussions.)

Anonymous – Disabled, Neurodivergent, Commuter UW Student (2022)

The ability to stop and pause lectures. It’s so easy to zone out and miss something but with recorded lectures it’s great to come back to watch recordings.

Tori – Commuter and UW Grad Student (2022)

Without opportunities for remote learning I would have had to continue to take leave from my program. I would be unable to progress in my program.

Anonymous – Disabled, Immunocompromised UW Grad Student (2022)

In addition to being a Grad student, I’m also a first responder. Remote coursework has allowed me to make (very) satisfactory progress towards completing my degree without exposing my classmates or instructors to Covid to which I might be exposed as a first responder. There are also days when I’m physically, mentally, or psychically exhausted from Covid’s influence at work, and so being able to join my classes and meetings without having to commute up to an hour each way to campus has been a godsend

Anonymous – UW Grad Student, Student Parent, Commuter Student (2022)

Even though I love the UW and honored to be a student here I considered, and still am, finding a program or different university that has kept online an option. I am also just starting my 3rd year, online it is my “normal” so “returning to campus” is not a return for me it is new. Online is the college I know, and commuting to campus is still so dangerous.

Vecksle Drake – Disabled UW Commuter Student (2022)

It allowed me so much more leeway when it came to unable to wake up in the morning or because I couldn’t sleep at night. It made it so much less stressful on my anxiety because I didn’t have to worry about getting Covid, or talking to people. On days where I feel like I don’t have the energy to do anything, online school was the perfect way for me to still keep up with material even when I can’t do any of the assignments that day.

Anonymous – UW Student with Mental Illness (2022)

During the full-online time, I could get back and celebrate holidays with my family instead of staying at campus. This is so beneficial for an international students since the holidays are different.

Xiaohan Yao – UW International Student (2022)

Truthfully as someone that has to commute 30-45 minutes just to get to school, I find it extremely helpful that I spend less time on the light rail and walking and more time doing homework or catching up with lectures at a convenient time for me. But commute doesn’t bother me, what bothers me is that I live with my family and my brother has a serious heart condition putting him at high risk of covid. That it worries me that one day I could bring it home to him and it could be life threatening. Especially when I’m in large populated classes where someone always contracts covid.

Nia Jones – UW Commuter Student and Worker (2022)

Being able to be closer to my child if an emergency happens. Being able to be more flexible if I need to go get her.

Anonymous – UW Commuter Student and Parent (2022)

Flexibility to work 9-5 and attend classes as needed without interrupting either work or class schedules. Having recorded lectures has made it much easier to study and review content. Screen sharing has made it easier to share content during lecture. Courses are more organized and transparent because professors have to make their plan and materials available online.

Anonymous – UW Commuter Student and Worker (2022)

I also find that I can manage my chronic illness symptoms from home while still attending class. The commute barrier being removed has added several hours to my day, which has increased my ability to care for my body and work on “crip time.”

Anonymous – UW Alumni and Lecturer (2022)